Letters from Lodi

An insightful and objective look at viticulture and winemaking from the Lodi
Appellation and the growers and vintners behind these crafts. Told from the
perspective of multi-award winning wine journalist, Randy Caparoso.

Randy Caparoso
July 21, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

The fine summer art of enjoying red wine with fish

It may be summer, but that doesn't mean every wine aficionado is reaching for white or pink wines. Red wine lovers are red wine lovers, and they're not going to let little things like 90-degree temperatures keep them from enjoying their preference.

Oh, they may make little adjustments, like going to slightly lighter reds; or easing up a little bit on red meat consumption (unless they're manning an outdoor grill). Be as it may, it is as good a time as any to revisit the notion of consuming red wine with fish. Not everyone, of course, has caught up with this.

But seriously, enjoying red wine with fish is not nearly as strange as it may seem. Fact of the matter is, there are many instances when a red wine tastes better with a seafood dish of some sort than any white wine or rosé. Why? Because as much as white wines with fish and red wines with red meat makes sense, not all seafood dishes are the same, and not all wines – reds, whites, pinks or sparklers – are either...

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Time Posted: Jul 21, 2016 at 7:30 AM Permalink to The fine summer art of enjoying red wine with fish Permalink
Randy Caparoso
July 18, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi & state of wine blogging to be addressed at 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference

Popular erudite blogger Elaine Brown (wakawakawinereviews) spreadng the word on Torrontés grown in Lodi by Silvaspoons Vineyards' Ron Silva (right)

Next month on August 11 through 13, 2016, Lodi wine country will be invaded by several hundred online wine scribes gathering for the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference. This will be a “9th Annual” – earlier Wine Bloggers Conferences, starting in 2008, happening in places like Santa Rosa, Portland, Walla Walla, New York’s Finger Lakes, Charlottesville in Virginia, and Penticton in British Columbia, Canada.

Wine blogging, once posted in 2013, has got to be “the world’s drunkest job.” But like Julie (Powell) in Julie & Julia, wine bloggers tend to be unremittingly passionate in their pursuit of the fermented grape; and forever hopeful that they, too, may someday wear the golden fleece accorded best selling authors or internationally acclaimed journalists. Indeed, some (albeit precious few) have managed to don some coat or another.

But mostly, these dedicated followers of vinous fashion perform a function, wrought by the internet age, involving the dispensing of knowledge and enthusiasm in a wine world that not too long ago was dominated exclusively by just a handful of periodicals and the few authors who seem to retain a stranglehold on all major book contracts (ever notice that the titles in book store wine sections are all authored by the same handful of writers?). Wine bloggers have democratized wine appreciation, which is a good thing. Power to the wine peeps...

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Time Posted: Jul 18, 2016 at 4:02 PM Permalink to Lodi & state of wine blogging to be addressed at 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference Permalink
Randy Caparoso
July 14, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi Winegrape Commission marks 25 years of unprecedented success

(photo courtesy of John Curley Photography)

Lodi is, like, weird. That is to say, this sprawling wine region (by far the largest in the U.S., with over 110,000 acres of planted wine grapes, and counting...) is led by an organization of grape growers and wineries collectively known as the Lodi Winegrape Commission.

Pursuant to the State of California Department of Food & Agriculture's Marketing Act of 1937, winegrape commissions are funded by annual assessments of the gross value of winegrape crops. In the case of Lodi, every commercial grape grower within California Grape Crush District 11 is compelled to join. While mandated programs like this are not a choice thing, each grower recognizes the shared benefits of marketing and promotion of the region’s grapes, the viticultural research and sustainable grape growing (i.e. Lodi Rules) programs, exposure of wines and the region as a destination through aggressive media and consumer campaigns, and ultimately, profitability for all...

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Time Posted: Jul 14, 2016 at 9:00 AM Permalink to Lodi Winegrape Commission marks 25 years of unprecedented success Permalink
Randy Caparoso
July 7, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

Verdelho is Lodi's gift to summer living

Verdelho harvest in Lodi's Silvaspoons Vineyards

What do Americans eat during summer? If you go to Sunset Magazine’s latest page proclaiming Fast & Fresh Summer Meals, you find a list of over three-dozen dishes with recipes for...

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Time Posted: Jul 7, 2016 at 7:00 AM Permalink to Verdelho is Lodi's gift to summer living Permalink
Randy Caparoso
July 5, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi's Mediterranean climate makes it ideal for rosé

The ideal dry rosè is scented but not overly fruity in the nose; fluid and a little fleshy in the mouth without being soft, hard or harsh with excess alcohol or tannin; and nuanced with sensory qualities other than plain fruit, like smidgens of kitchen herbs or minerals. 

In recent years, as Lodi's small community of artisanal wineries has come to fruition, we have been seeing more and more Lodi grown rosés crafted almost effortlessly to achieve these ideal qualities. Surely this cannot be a fluke. And it isn't. The reason is a set of geological circumstances which make Lodi similar in a number ways to the region where more rosé is produced than in any other part of the world: France's Provence, the source of over 1 million cases of dry pink wine each and every year.

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Time Posted: Jul 5, 2016 at 7:00 AM Permalink to Lodi's Mediterranean climate makes it ideal for rosé Permalink
Randy Caparoso
June 28, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

When weather gets hot, Lodi's exciting new whites get going

Lodi sunset in the Bokisch family's Terra Alta Vineyard

It’s not quite July; yet summer, evidently, is already in full swing, at least in The Golden State.

If you’re near a beach, life can be a peach. If you have a pool, then you’re just way cool. But if you have neither, and are relegated to life on a patio, under a shady tree or waiting for nightfall, the last thing you obviously feel like when the weather gets too-darn-hot are heavy foods and drinks.

Summer wines are ideally white not only because of their chill-ability, but also because red wines are by nature heavier because of their tannin, the component that gives wines a harder, slightly bitter, sometimes astringent taste. It’s just chemistry: red wines are fermented on their skins to extract color and tannin; whereas white wines are typically made from grapes that are pressed and separated from their skins prior to fermentation.

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Time Posted: Jun 28, 2016 at 3:18 PM Permalink to When weather gets hot, Lodi's exciting new whites get going Permalink
Randy Caparoso
June 23, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

What happens when a Pinot Noir specialist crafts ancient vine Lodi Zinfandel?

Kirschenmann Vineyard Zinfandel, two weeks before 2014 harvest

What happens when a Pinot Noir specialist gets ahold of Zinfandel from a primo ancient vine planting in Lodi? Basically two things:

 A very delicate, silky, perfumed, and yes, Pinot Noir-like Zinfandel – a virtual opposite of the big, blustery, jammy style of red wine more closely identified with the “varietal.”

 A Zinfandel that is more focused on characteristics of its vineyard source rather than commercial or critical expectations of varietal character.

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Time Posted: Jun 23, 2016 at 3:04 PM Permalink to What happens when a Pinot Noir specialist crafts ancient vine Lodi Zinfandel? Permalink
Randy Caparoso
June 15, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

The 2013 Lucas ZinStar reflects a stubborn legacy of single-vineyard finesse winemaking

The Lucas family's iconic 83-year old ZinStar Vineyard

There is a new “boss” in town at The Lucas Winery on Lodi’s west side: Mitra Lucas, who has just recently taken over winery management; although she prefers to refer to herself simply as “Owner & Daughter.”

“She may fire me yet,” said David Lucas this past weekend, with the familiar puckish glint in his eyes. Mr. Lucas founded his eponymous winery and vineyard estate in 1978, making it the second oldest boutique scale operation in the Lodi Viticultural Area.

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Time Posted: Jun 15, 2016 at 7:00 AM Permalink to The 2013 Lucas ZinStar reflects a stubborn legacy of single-vineyard finesse winemaking Permalink
Randy Caparoso
June 13, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

Lodi grown wines shine at 2016 Barbera Festival

Barbera in Lodi's Leventini Vineyard, planted in 1972

Long known as one of the world’s greatest “food wines” because of its higher than average acidity – think of what vinegar does for oil, how lime makes a ceviche, or how a simple squeeze of lemon on a fish or even a slice of beef immensely improves a dish – the black skinned Barbera grape has also recently emerged as one of California’s favorite varietal reds, period.

Witness the 2,000 or so Barbera lovers who descended upon the sleepy town of Plymouth in California's Amador County this past Saturday (June 11, 2016) for the 6th annual Barbera Festival. That’s a lot of people, coming from all over just to enjoy just one, single type of wine.

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Time Posted: Jun 13, 2016 at 4:00 PM Permalink to Lodi grown wines shine at 2016 Barbera Festival Permalink
Randy Caparoso
June 8, 2016 | Randy Caparoso

Holman's Uncharted Bacchus goes where few wines dare to go

One of the brands used by Holman Cellars, a micro-winery based in Napa Valley, is called Uncharted – an apt description of the Lodi grown white wine presented by owner/winemaker Jason Holman at a winemakers’ lunch and tasting in Mokelumne Glen Vineyards this past Saturday (June 4, 2016).

The wine in question: the 2015 Uncharted (by Holman Cellars) Mokelumne Glen Vineyard Lodi Bacchus ($25); a crisp, bone dry, buoyant and fluid medium bodied white wine with beautiful perfumes and sensuous, lingering flavors suggesting the pungent oils of sweet thyme and lavender rubbed between the fingers, the stringy flesh of apricot pulled off a pit, and ribbons of skin peeled from a baking apple.

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Time Posted: Jun 8, 2016 at 7:00 AM Permalink to Holman's Uncharted Bacchus goes where few wines dare to go Permalink

Lodi Wine Visitor Center
2545 West Turner Road Lodi, CA 95242
Open: Daily 10:00am-5:00pm

Lodi Winegrape Commission
2545 West Turner Road, Lodi, CA 95242
Open: Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm

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